The NBA Finals is Anyone's to Lose

Right Now, The NBA Finals Is Anyone's To Lose

As the NBA Playoffs get into full swing, it looks like it can be anyone's to lose.

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Over the past 4 years, it has been set in stone that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers would play in the NBA Finals. After LeBron James left the Cavs to go to the Lakers, it seemed that the Warriors would run away from the rest of the league. But, so far it looks like there is no clear favorite for the trophy. With the resurgence of the Rockets, the struggles of the Warriors, and the 76ers, anyone is considered the favorite for the championship this season.

As the Golden State Warriors began their quest for a fourth championship in 5 years, this year looked to be one of their easiest years in the dynasty. But in the first round, the LA Clippers gave the Warriors all they had, and still lost the series in 5 games, as the second round began it looked like the Warriors would match up with the Houston Rockets for a series for the ages, with an injury to star Kevin Durant, this looked to be the end of their championship run. All the Warriors did was win 6 by a wide margin over the Houston Rockets, but how long can the Warriors stay afloat without KD. For the Portland Trail Blazers, they were able to quite the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round and would face the Denver Nuggets in a classic 7 game series, coming down to a clutch shot int he final seconds by CJ McCollum. The Blazers and Warriors split their four games in 2018-2019, and it looks like this year's Western Conference Finals, will come down to the wire.

After the Philadelphia 76ers rolled on past the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, they looked to be the team that would represent the Eastern Conference following the departure of LeBron James. Kawhi Leonard hit the first ever buzzer beater to win a game 7 in professional sports history. For the Milwaukee Bucs, they were able to dispose of the Detroit Pistons in 4 games and blew right on past the Boston Celtics in 4 games as well. Having one of the best players in the NBA, Giannis Antetokunmpo helps a little bit. This year in the Eastern Conference Finals it will be two of the best players in the league, duking it out to see which is the superior player, and lead their team to the NBA Finals.

This year the playoff have been more aggressive, more energetic, and more heart racing than ever. While many people predicted that these four teams would reach the conference finals, many people don't know who is going to move on after this, every team has a strength, and a weakness, some more glaring than others, but all in all this is the beauty of the NBA, while over the past few years it has been one of the parodic leagues in the major 4 professional sports, now even with the Warriors as the clear favorite, there are still three high-quality teams that can steal the throne from them. And even if the Warriors win the NBA Finals in 4 games, as long as the Mike Breen is on the call, it will always be an entertaining game.

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Is Lonzo Ball A Bust?

He isn't even the best rookie on his own team, and that is concerning.
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The Los Angeles Lakers took Lonzo Ball with the second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. They had high expectations for him. The Lakers hope he will become the face of their franchise and be one of the next great NBA superstars. He was drafted with the intention of being a rookie of the year caliber player.

There’s only one problem: Lonzo Ball isn’t even the best rookie on his own team.

The best rookie on the Lakers is Kyle Kuzma, the 27th round pick of the draft. Kuzma has been a welcoming surprise for the Lakers and has earned himself a spot in the starting rotation. He has far exceeded his expectations as a rookie and has put up 15 points a game and grabbed seven rebounds-per-game.

He’s shooting 51 percent from the field and 81 percent from the free throw line which is very respectable for a big man. His player efficiency rating is at a 15.3 which is just enough to be better than the league average of 15.

Compare that to Lonzo Ball, who has not met expectations. Lonzo is averaging 9 points, 7 rebounds, and 7.5 assists per game. That’s not too bad for a rookie point guard who focuses on setting up his teammates, but his efficiency is something to be concerned about.

Lonzo is only shooting 31.4 percent in total and shooting 25 percent from the three-point line. Even more alarming is that he’s only shooting 50 percent from the free-throw line in the 1.8 times he makes it to the line at all per game. His player efficiency rating is below the league average at 10.8. He is nowhere near the player he was in college.

At UCLA, he shot 55 percent and 41 percent from the three-point line. His efficiency rating was at 24.7. It’s safe to say that he hasn’t been comfortable adjusting to the NBA.

This raises the question, is Lonzo Ball a bust?

He does have plenty of room to grow physically and adjust to the NBA defenders. Plenty of players that are now considered All-Stars struggled in their rookie year.

Giannis Antetokounmpo only averaged 6.8 points his rookie season and still struggles with his jump-shot to this day. Jason Kidd, the player who Ball has drawn many comparisons to, only averaged 11 points his rookie year and struggled with his shot too.

The problem for Lonzo is that he can’t afford to struggle with his jump-shot as a guard. He isn’t physical enough to drive to the basket at an elite level like 6’11” Giannis Antetokounmpo can, and he doesn’t play with the same aggressiveness that Jason Kidd did.

Kidd was looking to score when he dribbled towards the rim unless he had a wide-open teammate. When Lonzo dribbles to the basket, he intends to pass, not score. Defenders don’t have to worry about Lonzo scoring and can limit his options because they know he’s going to pass unless he has a wide-open shot.

NBA point guards can’t play timid like that. This era of basketball is built for scoring and the rules benefit offensive players. Lonzo needs to learn how to be aggressive and draw contact to get to the free-throw line until his jump-shot becomes more consistent.

If Lonzo never develops his jump-shot and never learns how to score in the paint, then yes, he will certainly be a bust. It’s still early in the season and Lonzo has plenty of time to find consistency in his game, but it's concerning that he's been playing this poorly so far. He has much more work to put in than was expected for the number two pick of the draft.

Cover Image Credit: Flickr

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It Just Takes One Bad Coach To Kill Your Passion For The Game

The thing I loved turned into my worst enemy.

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Sports have been a part of my life since I can remember. I played soccer from the age of four to 14, and basketball from age 9 to my senior year of high school. Sports gave me joy and brought me some of my closest friends. They taught me important life lessons and helped me be who I am today. I loved basketball so much that I stopped playing soccer the summer going into high school. I was all in for basketball and was determined to be great at it. But senior year of high school that all changed.

I was pulled up to the varsity team my junior year. I was so excited that I proved to myself and my coach that I was worthy to hold a spot on the team. I was told when I got pulled up that I wouldn't play that much and was okay with that. That was probably the biggest mistake I made. I figured that I'd get a few minutes each game and get some decent play time. I was wrong. I did not play but maybe 10 minutes that season. I was discouraged but was determined that senior year was going to be the year I made a statement.

Senior year came around and it was time for basketball season. All summer I worked on my game so that I could go in and get a spot on the court. I was so pumped, but the first game came and I did not play. We played a horrible team and were killing them, but I did not step on that court once. I was mad but then told myself I just had to work harder the following week during practice. That next week came and I made sure I pushed myself. Next game came around, didn't play again. The cycle happened for about the next month. My coach would tell me that I would get my time and I believed her.

District play was about to happen and I figured I'd get some good play time, but all I ended up with was disappointment. It got to the point where I stopped going to my basketball trainer, I dreaded practice and I dreaded having to sit on that bench every Tuesday and Friday night. What made it more frustrating was that I showed up and showed out every summer. I went to every camp that was recommended we go to and showed up to every open gym. There was a moment where I thought about quitting, and my parents fully supported the decision, but I decided to stay to show my coach why I deserved to play. But no matter how hard I tried, my love for playing faded away.

Sports were my escape for whatever was going on in my life, and now I didn't have that anymore. My coach made me hate the sport I once loved. I literally counted down the days until the season ended that's how much I hated it. I couldn't stand going to practice or games. I would just complain about it. Every night I'd come home and just whine and say how much I couldn't wait for the season to be over. I got so numb that I didn't even get upset or cry like everyone else did when we lost our last game. Did not shed one single tear because I was so relieved that it was all over. Isn't that sad? The game I loved ended up turning into an enemy for me.

Coaches ruin sports for kids all the time, and I'm so disappointed that it happened to me.

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